HYDERABAD: The expanding urbanscape has left those in the fringes out of the ‘big picture’ especially in providing them timely healthcare. Though the government aided healthcare system covers 90 percent of Hyderabad city, the number of migrant workers seeking its help is miniscule. A large number of areas in the city, which house these workers, lack basic immunization facilities.
A three-day training workshop on qualitative health research being organized by the city-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) raised similar questions among the staff of the national task force working on the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) initiative on ‘Migration, Poverty and Access to Health Care: A multi-centric study on people’s access and health system’s responsiveness in metro/major cities.’ The study being conducted in six major cities and seven fast-growing cities has thrown up some disturbing facts about the state of healthcare among the rural migrants.
“More than 50 per cent of the migrant workers are tribal and hail from Mahboobnagar, followed by Kurnool and Bidar. There are hardly two or three major government hospitals which cater to them and they usually prefer to go to quacks and unqualified medical practitioners spending a lot of money. For ante-natal care, they prefer to go back to their villages as the locations of the hospitals are far away in urban areas,” observed Dr JJ Babu, who is the chief coordinator for the survey being carried out by NIN in Hyderabad city. So far, 3000 households have been surveyed in GHMC and parts of Rangareddy.
“The first phase of the programme which was launched in August last year will be completed by the middle of 2012. Following this we would focus on intervention, at the end of which we will suggest policy measures to the government,” said the national program officer for the survey and deputy director general of ICMR Dr BV Babu who was present at the inauguration of the workshop.
Among the policy measures likely to be suggested, providing government-backed healthcare insurance is a top priority.
“The problem with ease of access to healthcare in urban areas is that there is no specific structure to the system, unlike in rural areas where there is a healthcare centre per 1000 people in a given area,” pointed out Dr BV Babu who says that bringing on-board public-private partnership in healthcare is important for migrant workers.